Body Double

Eric Amling

I came from a clandestine line of mediocrity—birthed to the theme music from Days of Our Lives. I like to believe this. 1981. That Reagan-era backbeat. Losing the sensations that prey on the innocent—the melodrama that redesigns the console of second chances—it’s where you cut your teeth, undoing your pre-teen robe and walking off the altar a blasphemous scofflaw to impending far worlds.

The original intent sounds reasonable enough. Fascination is not that it’s worth watching but that there’s something there to watch in the first place. Life’s tenure entailed consecutive chapters—some titled with the cold sober logic of a sadist.

Now imagine yourself at a cocktail party with young creatives.

I was the empty aquarium recycling its own water.

You don’t see the dead burying themselves. All the granite and marble acreages. It makes sense to then envision this unpleasant scenario: My parents had to bury a son. They’d taken me with them to his grave and placed flowers at the base of it—similar to the ones that surrounded the revolving dessert case I had been admiring at the diner earlier in the day. Calla Lilies, Chrysanthemums were common, silk flowers were also very popular. One of the cakes had a missing slice of a Rose. I’m not sure of the intent to bring a child to a cemetery with no explanation. Romanticism leads to futility and even absurdity. You’re left with no choice but to take in other details. The stained glass window overlooking the snack machine, for instance.

People are lost and replaced all the time in this world and in that world, the soap opera one—a netherworld view of this one. Actor 2 stands in for Actor 1 playing a character that returns for another season battling the oedipal mind and Elva is the hottest lawyer to ever step out of a white Trans Am—but those are not her legs. Body doubles. Long days of standing in. An oscillating minor intrusion.

Many years later driving back from a funeral, on the Palisades, in a new suit, in an old truck, singing the 1989 Grammy Award hit, Black Velvet by Alannah Myles it began to lightly snow. I admit I started to tear up—I couldn’t help but think my love affairs were just a foil keeping me temporarily useful. I passed a closed steakhouse just up the hill from a roadside cross when I noticed I was passing my brother’s cemetery across the river. I speak too softly about loved ones. How can a flower bring value to no memory? I know I don’t have to come up with an answer today; prognostication progresses slowly. I’d like to become a character drifting towards a temptation all their own, to get to a level of fame that absolves me. To have someone else sending my flowers.